How to Run 3 Monitors on Dell

By Andrew Mikael

Increasing the number of monitors on a Dell computer increases the screen real estate for easier multitasking. While many computers have the ability to run two monitors by default, a third monitor may require a hardware upgrade, depending on the included video card. Due to physical limitations and lack of upgrade ability, Dell laptops cannot operate with a third monitor. The Windows operating system included with Dell computers has three-monitor support built in.

Step 1

Ensure the system has the physical capabilities of supporting three monitors. You will need a video card with three monitor output plugs or two video cards running in tandem with at least three outputs between them. Reference the video card's included literature for specific information on multiple-monitor support. Many Dell desktops will require a video card upgrade before working with three monitors.

Step 2

Turn the system off. Connect each monitor to the system's video output ports and to a power outlet. Arrange the monitors in relation to each other. Windows supports many different arrangements of multiple monitors, whether stacked vertically, laid horizontally or placed in an offset pattern.

Step 3

Turn on the system and each monitor. Depending on the system's current settings, it may only activate one monitor or replicate the display across all three screens.

Step 4

Open the Control Panel and select the "Display" option in "Classic View" or "Icon View." Click on "Change Display Settings" in Windows 7 or the "Settings" tab in Windows XP and Vista.

Step 5

Click on the monitor labeled with a "2" in the panel display. In Windows 7, choose "Extend these displays" in the "Multiple Displays" drop-down menu. In Windows XP and Vista, check the "Extend the Desktop onto this monitor" box. Repeat this step for the monitor labeled "3." You may also choose custom resolutions for each monitor while they are selected.

Step 6

Click the "Identify" button and note the number designations appearing on each screen. Click and drag the monitor icons to match the arrangement of the physical monitors. Click the "Apply" button and move the mouse cursor between the screens to ensure proper placement. Click "OK" when finished. These settings will remain as long as you do not unplug a monitor or change its arrangement.